Prague, 7 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Czech Republic is planning to close all of its controversial infant homes by 2024, one of the last EU member states to do so.
A draft bill to this purpose was carried unanimously in the Chamber of Deputies on Friday. It will now go to the Senate, the second chamber of the Czech parliament, for further discussion.
The law foresees that orphaned or abandoned children up to the age of 3 are to be exclusively placed in foster families instead of homes.
“For young children the homes are harmful,” said Olga Richterova from the liberal Pirate Party, who initiated the bill.
The new legislation would also apply to children whose parents have lost custody.
Currently, there are still over 200 infants and toddlers in Czech homes. Several months ago, the European Committee of Social Rights slammed this practice, accusing the Czech Republic of violating Article 17 of the 1961 European Social Charter, which enshrines the right of children to social, legal and economic protection.
The committee expressed particular concern regarding the treatment of disabled infants and children belonging to the Roma minority.
Supporters of the infant homes have pointed to a persistent lack in foster families, however. A move to also allow unmarried couples to be foster parents failed to win a majority in parliament on Friday.